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When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America's Obsession with Economic Efficiency Kindle Edition
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American democratic capitalism is in danger. How can we save it?
For its first two hundred years, the American economy exhibited truly impressive performance. The combination of democratically elected governments and a capitalist system worked, with ever-increasing levels of efficiency spurred by division of labor, international trade, and scientific management of companies. By the nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976, the American economy was the envy of the world.
But since then, outcomes have changed dramatically. Growth in the economic prosperity of the average American family has slowed to a crawl, while the wealth of the richest Americans has skyrocketed. This imbalance threatens the American democratic capitalist system and our way of life.
In this bracing yet constructive book, world-renowned business thinker Roger Martin starkly outlines the fundamental problem: We have treated the economy as a machine, pursuing ever-greater efficiency as an inherent good. But efficiency has become too much of a good thing. Our obsession with it has inadvertently shifted the shape of our economy, from a large middle class and smaller numbers of rich and poor (think of a bell-shaped curve) to a greater share of benefits accruing to a thin tail of already-rich Americans (a Pareto distribution).
With lucid analysis and engaging anecdotes, Martin argues that we must stop treating the economy as a perfectible machine and shift toward viewing it as a complex adaptive system in which we seek a fundamental balance of efficiency with resilience. To achieve this, we need to keep in mind the whole while working on the component parts; pursue improvement, not perfection; and relentlessly tweak instead of attempting to find permanent solutions.
Filled with keen economic insight and advice for citizens, executives, policy makers, and educators, When More Is Not Better is the must-read guide for saving democratic capitalism.
From the Publisher
When More Is Not Better: Overcoming America's Obsession with Economic Efficiency
Named the 2020 Porchlight Leadership & Strategy Book of the Year
Named one of the "10 Best New Business Books of 2020" by Inc. magazine
Named one of the Globe & Mail's "Best Business Books of 2020"
Named one of the "Best books of 2020: Business" by the Financial Times
"A new book by Professor Roger Martin is always a major event for the evolution of management." — Forbes
"This important new book blames a dangerous obsession with efficiency, long the mantra and target of chief executives and finance directors worldwide and a foundation of modern capitalism." — Financial Times
"Drawing from hard economic data and in-depth interviews with 'regular Americans,' Martin makes a persuasive case for rethinking perceived wisdom about the economy. Policy makers and business leaders will want to take note." — Publisher's Weekly
Advance Praise for When More Is Not Better:
"Roger Martin leverages his deep knowledge of economic systems to precisely diagnose the systemic shortcomings of the modern economy and his practical experience to lay out a pathway to an economy that works for all. A must-read." — Paul Polman, cofounder and Chair, IMAGINE; former CEO, Unilever
"Important, if surprising, messages . . . by one of the world's most creative business minds. Roger Martin offers a realist's path toward a more resilient America, with concrete suggestions for business leaders, politicians, educators, and citizens." — Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government; author, Straight Talk on Trade
"When More Is Not Better shows what will truly set up our economy for long-term success: a better balance of efficiency and resilience. And it's also the prescription we need as individuals. A must-read for our time!" — Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO, Thrive Global
"Roger Martin is my generation's Peter Drucker. He enables us to see beyond the traditional boundaries of business theory to the bigger system at play in our efficiency-obsessed world. And, like Drucker's, his prescriptions are clear, realistic, and practical." — Jim Hackett, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company
"The world has never been so . . . well connected, [yet] we remain more divided, with many feeling left behind and deeply frustrated. Martin not only provides a deep and clear understanding of why this is the case but also what can relatively easily be done. . . . I was left with a feeling of optimism about bringing greater resilience to our world." — Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, former CEO, LEGO Group; Executive Chairman, LEGO Brand Group
"At the moment when America needs it most, When More Is Not Better brilliantly reveals where democratic capitalism has gone wrong and what new design principles we need to fix it." — Tim Brown, Chair, IDEO; author, Change by Design
"When More Is Not Better delivers a trenchant critique of the efficiency-at-any-price economic model. But it also offers something equally important and exceedingly rare: real, practical solutions. . . . A timely, urgent book." — Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author, Drive, When, and A Whole New Mind--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- ASIN : B0842X18W1
- Publisher : Harvard Business Review Press (September 29, 2020)
- Publication date : September 29, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 1905 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 185 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #508,827 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2020
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Top reviews from the United States
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I agree that a major problem facing democratic capitalism is the shift in income distribution from a Gaussian to a Pareto shaped distribution. The income inequality problem is a root cause of increasing political instability,
However, the idea that the pursuit of efficiency is the cause of this shift and that starting to think of the economy as a natural system will solve this is flawed thinking.
Natural systems are essentially extreme versions of capitalism pursuing a singular goal of maximizing the efficient use of available resources and energy. The only applicable rules are the natural laws of physics and chemistry. These systems are intensely cruel and unforgiving to the weak. Every avenue for advantage and arbitrage is pursued. They are singularly focused on consuming and dissipating energy. Complete system failures are design features in many of these natural systems. They follow a endless cycle of birth, maturity, death (usually by fire), and rebirth.
And Pareto distributions are the norm in natural systems not the exception, so thinking of the economy as a natural system will not fix that.
The shift of the US income distribution towards a pareto shape is more likely driven by the coupling of the financialization of the economy with the opening up of a previously closed manufacturing system to the global economy via global supply chains and communication.
Globalization has made the US economy exhibit more of the pareto characteristics we see in natural systems, rather than the unnatural state of gaussian distribution.
The financialization of the economy compounds the problem due to the fact that money is not subject to the same entropy as energy. In natural systems, when an organism dies it's energy is returned to the environment. The same cannot be said of our financial system, where wealth is retained and perpetuated over many generations.
If we want to being to fix the problem, we should start by prioritizing the well being of people over the growth of financial assets by removing the incentives to grow the money economy at the expense of the physical economy.
Martin devotes fully half of his book to tangible recommendations for citizens, legislators, executives and educators - and in doing so, covers off four of the biggest groups that shape our thinking and daily lives. In his usual approachable style, Martin gives us both the diagnosis and the prescription - a must read for anyone who has the desire to create a better tomorrow.
Top reviews from other countries
Easy to read, accessible, relevant to a wide audience, thoughtful and insightful.
I work in higher education and think this should be required reading for students, staff, and faculty...as well as our policymakers.
This book helps us understand how we can practically move forward as a pluralist society.